The elusive nature of cultural identity and the complexities of life in the Indian diaspora are among the abiding themes of Pulitzer Prize–winning author Jhumpa Lahiri, whose acclaimed books such as Interpreter of Maladies and The Namesake are some of the most intimate depictions of the immigrant experience in contemporary American fiction. The latest episode in the Criterion Channel series Adventures in Moviegoing features Lahiri speaking with Rome Film Festival artistic director Antonio Monda about how the subjects that she explores in her work connect with her lifelong fascination with cinema. She traces her passion for movies back to her childhood spent in a household where the relative merits of Bengali masters Satyajit Ray and Ritwik Ghatak were regularly debated and the sounds of Bollywood musicals were ever-present. In the excerpt below, she explains how images of India—both in the work of the country’s most internationally renowned auteurs and in British films like Gandhi and A Passage to India—helped her to develop a sense of her heritage while growing up in the United States. Head over to the Criterion Channel to watch the full episode along with Lahiri’s selection of films, which share the same fine-grained attention to the natural world that distinguishes her writing. Also, check out the six previous installments in the series, including spotlights on writers Jonathan Lethem and Mary Karr.
Mira Nair’s Guide to the Collection
The writer-director of Monsoon Wedding and Salaam Bombay! takes us through an eclectic mix of favorite films, including works by Jane Campion, Lars von Trier, and Satyajit Ray.